Makes: Two 23cm tarts
Preparation time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Oven temperature: 200°C, then 180°C
Baking time: 30 minutes
Rich short crust pastry:
- 280g (500ml) cake flour
- 2ml salt
- 200g cold butter, cubed
- 15ml castor sugar
- 1 egg white
- 20ml ice water
- 5ml lemon juice
- 120ml castor sugar
- 2 vanilla pods
- 6 apples
- 300g butter
- 300g castor sugar
- 4 eggs
- 300g finely ground almonds
- Rind of two lemons, grated
- 90ml cake flour
- 120ml raisins, soaked in warm water until plump
Make the pastry
Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the flour mixture has the consistency of fine breadcrumbs. Add the castor sugar and stir through. Mix the egg yolks, water and lemon juice and add to the dry ingredients. Knead into firm dough, halve, wrap each portion in cling film, and refrigerate for one hour.
Note: Refrigerating the pastry for a while helps prevent shrinking during baking.
Tip: All pastry can be frozen for up to 3 months, if carefully wrapped. Ideally, defrost it overnight in the fridge.
Prepare the cases
- Roll out each ball on a floured surface to a thickness of 3mm.
Step 1 Step 2
Tip: It’s easier to roll out the dough between two layers of plastic, as it won’t break as readily that way.
2 Roll the dough onto a rolling pin (don’t worry if it breaks: that’s the nature of the dough, so just press it together again) and line two flan tins.
Step 3 Step 4
3 Prick the pastry bases, cover with cling film and refrigerate until needed.
4 Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC, then cover the pastry cases with baking paper and a layer of dried beans, and bake blind for about 10 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for another five minutes. Allow the cases to cool and reduce the oven temperature to 180ºC.
Prepare the filling
- Place the castor sugar and the vanilla pods in a saucepan with 1 litre water, bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 minutes. Peel, halve and core the apples, then add to the syrup in the saucepan, cover and poach for 5-10 minutes until soft. Drain and cool.
Tip You can reduce the remaining sauce and serve it as syrup with the apple tart for dessert.
- Beat the butter and castor sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, beating thoroughly after each. Next, fold in the almonds, lemon rind and cake flour.
- Slice the apples with a sharp knife but not quite all the way through the top.
3. Spread three-quarters of the almond filling over the baked pastry cases. Fan the apples over the filling and sprinkle the raisins on top. Spoon the rest of the filling between the apple slices and bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown and firm. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Tips for the perfect apple pie
- Always work with cold utensils and equipment when making pastry; the butter should come straight from the fridge and you should use your fingertips to work it into the flour, as those are the coolest parts of your hands.
- This is one time you can’t substitute margarine – the results are far superior with butter.
- Use the liquid quantities in the recipe as a guide only – the moisture content of the flour will determine how much you actually use. Remember, too much liquid is one of the reasons why pastry tends to shrink.
- If the pastry stretches when you line the pan it will also shrink during baking. Prevent this by carefully lifting the dough with the aid of a rolling pin and draping it over the tin. Then dust your fingertips with flour and lightly press down the pastry.